Land lines are a dead technology.

People are increasingly realizing that it’s more practical to carry a phone with you all the time than to rush home agonizing over whether or not you missed an important call. With the proliferation of the mobile phone came the spread of providers competing for your business and until recently, companies have been taking advantage.

In 2013, that all changed when the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), a federal administrative tribunal responsible for regulating and supervising broadcasting and telecommunications, created the Wireless Code of Conduct which explains your rights as a mobile consumer and the rules your wireless company must obey.

On June 15, 2017, the CRTC came out with new rules specifying the obligations set out in the Wireless Code of Conduct.

Here’s a crash course on the Wireless Code and what those rules are.

Your wireless service provider must communicate with you in plain language. Written contracts and any related documents such as privacy and fair use policies must be written in a way that is clear and easy to read and understand. That means that they cannot draft contracts and related documents in a way that would dupe you into agreeing to something most wouldn’t have had they fully understood it.

The terms of your contract regarding voice, text, and data services cannot be unilaterally changed without the account holder’s consent. You are allowed to cancel your wireless contract within fifteen days and return your device to the provider in near-new condition at no cost, provided that at the time of the cancellation you used less than half of your monthly usage limits.

Wireless providers have to set out the prices in the contract and specify if they include taxes. They cannot charge you extra if you purchased a plan with unlimited services and they cannot limit an unlimited plan unless the fair use policy clearly specifies when they can and those conditions are met.

Your wireless provider must notify you at no charge when your device is in another country and clearly explain the ensuing rates for talk, text, and data. You can opt out of these notifications at any time. They cannot charge you more than a hundred dollars per monthly billing cycle for data roaming unless you have clearly given prior consent, and this billing cap must come at no charge to you, the consumer.

For data overage charges – data used over your data plan’s limit – the rules set the cap at fifty dollars unless you expressly consented to paying more. This cap cannot come at any charge to you.

Where family or group plans are concerned, these caps apply on a per-account basis regardless of how many devices are attached to the plan.

No More Locked Devices

Your wireless company cannot charge you for any device or service you did not expressly purchase, and as of June 15, 2017, unlocking fees are now illegal.

The aforementioned fees are what cell phone companies would charge to unlock your phone should you try decide to switch wireless providers. That means that before the CRTC’s decision, if you chose to switch wireless providers, you couldn’t just swap out the sim cards and keep using your current device. You would have to pay your old company a fee to unlock your phone.

Wireless providers justified the charges as a way of ensuring the device was paid for should the consumer decide to switch providers before the end of their contract. The CRTC has decided that this is illegal as it puts an unfair limit on competition between wireless providers.

As per the CRTC’s ruling as of December 1, 2017 you have the right to go to your wireless provider and have your devices unlocked free of charge. Any new devices you get must be provided to you unlocked from now on.

If your device is lost or stolen and you notify your wireless company immediately, your wireless provider must suspend your service at no charge. You’re still obligated to pay any charges incurred before the company got notice that the device was lost or stolen, the monthly fee, and if you choose the cancel the contract, any cancellation fee. If you find your device or replace it, you can notify your service provider who has to restore your service free of charge.

If you decide to cancel your contract early, the company can only charge you a cancellation fee. No other penalties apply and wireless companies have to calculate the cancellation fee based on criteria set out in the Wireless Code of Conduct. You can cancel your contract at any time by notifying your service provider.

Penalties for the Providers

Now let’s say your wireless provider does not obey the Wireless Code; what do you do? What kinds of penalties will the company face?

If your Wireless Service Provider does not respect the Wireless Code, you can file a complaint with the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services, which is charged with administering it. If the complaint falls within their mandate, they’ll get in touch with your provider and ask them to try and resolve the matter with you and get back to them in thirty days.

Once the provider gets back to them, they’ll try and assess if the issue has been resolved to your satisfaction. If it hasn’t, the Commissioner will assess if the issue can be resolved informally. Your complaint can be rejected or dismissed at any stage of the proceedings.

If the Commissioner decides your complaint has merits, they can recommend that your provider take action or refrain from doing so. This can include anything from an apology to stopping collections activity, to compensating you up to five thousand dollars for any losses or inconvenience suffered.

Both you and your wireless provider can decide whether to accept or reject the recommendation. If your provider rejects it, the Commissioner will assess the reasons and make a decision as to whether to maintain or modify their recommendation. If the decision is accepted by you, it becomes binding on your service provider. If you reject the Commissioner’s decision, your service provider does not have to obey it.

It’s not an ideal solution, as it’s a long process to try and get fairness from wireless providers all too ready and willing to take advantage of consumer naivete, but at least there are checks in place.

A cell phone is a modern necessity. Don’t get screwed by the providers.

* Featured image by John Fingas via Flickr Creative Commons

When people call me Marilyn Monroe I know that is a compliment
I respond by farting or hiding behind a mustache
I see my skin
Over fat
Straw hair
Scared Cat

I was drunk and fucked up in a hotel once.
I looked in the mirror
And knew it was true blonde martyr moment

I smile big regardless
It has made me good at customer service
I assure you its genuine
Like the bleach in my chalice
This one is for you!
Ever sip closer to perfection

Would the comparison even be made if I were brunette?
Norma Gene was a brunette
My roots are the dirtiest shade of dark blonde
Ambition

But does that mean I’m going to die naked drugged out at the hands of a corrupt president on the path of his own final destination?
Yes
Sounds pretty accurate actually
I relate more to chubby sweatpants Anna Nicole Smith
Besides the elderly husband and obsession with money thing
I need no ring

I hate the whole dumb blonde thing
I actuality did really well in school

Now I am the degenerate scum

Smoking blunts on a trampoline
Riding bikes with teenagers on acid
Standing a top Niagara Falls
Water that would rip my skin off
My body would grow flaccid
Under the waves

On the rocks
I keep falling for cocks
That are obsessed with skinny brunettes
Not buxom blondes
They tell me about it like I can help them get into her panties
Get off my lawn bro
Just go!

I keep falling for rockstars
That are scared of my shine
I am fine
My heart is all mine

 

I will never lose my name
She was married 3 times
But the only one that got her to change her name was the mistress of fame
She won at that

Everyone knows who she is
Iconic
I have shirts and leggings with her face on them
She has more drag queens paying homage per capita than any other celebritant

At what cost?
She did not get the chance to grow old
Decrepit
Intrepid dust
I feel its lust

I don’t want to grow old but its creeping in like a storm
That has been on the radar since the day I was born
It is inevitable that I will be carried away in the cyclone
The cycle of humanity

Free pass for the prettiest ones
Golden child
Free of earthly holds
Loss, love, and lack of communication
Body folds

The photo taken of just her ass

While singing “Happy Birthday Mr. President”

 

 

At the end of May it came to light that Karla Homolka, the Barbie of the Ken and Barbie Killers, was volunteering at her kids’ elementary school in NDG. Outrage erupted with some saying that Homolka was entitled to her privacy at least for her children’s sake, while others said that the nature of her past crimes should disqualify her from ever being around children.

For those of you unfamiliar with Homolka’s story, Karla and her husband Paul Bernardo went on a rape, torture, and murder spree in the early nineties. Her victims were all underage girls – Leslie Mahaffy, age 14, Kristen French, age 15, and Tammy Homolka, Karla’s own sister, age 15. Karla and her husband were eventually caught in 1993 and in exchange for a plea deal, she sold out her husband who is now serving life without parole.

In order to get this plea deal, she had to rat on Bernardo and convince the prosecution that she was a hapless pawn in his plan to rape, torture, and kill. Some time after the deal was struck a tape surfaced of the crimes demonstrating that Homolka was not only not a victim of Bernardo, but was a willing participant in the crimes.

She was released from prison in 2005.

This article is not just about Karla Homolka, though there should be no question that while her kids are certainly entitled to their privacy, she who raped, tortured, and murdered three girls should never be trusted around other people’s children.

This article is about our parole system.

Parole is a kind of conditional release from prison in which an offender can serve out the remainder of their sentence in the community.

The rules regarding parole in Canada are governed primarily by the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Canadian Criminal Code. The purpose of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act is to ensure that prisons are safe and humane and by assisting in the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders so they can become law-abiding citizens.

The Act’s section on parole starts with reiterating that the purpose of any kind of conditional release is to ensure a just and safe society by making the best decisions regarding the timing and condition of release in a way that will best suit this purpose and the goal of rehabilitation.

The Parole Board of Canada (PBC) is the federal body with almost exclusive authority to grant parole. The Act allows for provinces to set up their own parole boards for offenders sentenced to two years or less, though only Quebec and Ontario currently have them.

The PBC can not only grant parole, but can also revoke it, or cancel a decision to grant it.

The Parole Board has to base their decision to grant parole on several factors including “the nature and gravity of the offence, the degree of responsibility of the offender, information from the trial or sentencing process and information obtained from victims, offenders and other components of the criminal justice system, including assessments provided by correctional authorities.”

Their decisions also have to be consistent with the protection of society.

Parole is granted only if the Board is convinced an offender will not pose a risk to society by re-offending if released from prison before their sentence is up, and if the release of said offender will actually facilitate the protection of society via their rehabilitation into a law-abiding citizen.

There are two types of parole in Canada.

Full parole means a person can finish out their sentence in society provided they obey certain conditions designed to keep them from re-offending and report regularly to a parole officer. Offenders in Canada automatically become eligible for parole by serving one third of their custodial sentence, with the exception of those sentenced to life without parole. Those offenders are only eligible after a number of years specified in their sentence.

Day parole means an offender can work or participate in community activities but have to go back to prison or a sort of residence at night. As per the act, an offender is typically eligible for day parole when they reach the date of eligibility for full parole.

Once a person is released and have completed their parole, they can theoretically get on with their lives, but that’s not as easy as it seems. Ex-cons often have difficulty reintegrating into society, and these difficulties often lead to recidivism. Fortunately, there are legal protections in place for former offenders. The Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, which applies to both private and public entities in Quebec, forbids discrimination, stating:

“No one may dismiss, refuse to hire or otherwise penalize a person in his employment owing to the mere fact that he was convicted of a penal or criminal offence, if the offence was in no way connected with the employment or if the person has obtained a pardon for the offence.”

The question at the end of the day is does criminal rehabilitation work?

*Eve, who served four months for conspiracy to traffic narcotics and has since been pardoned, thinks that likelihood of rehabilitation depends a lot on the character of the offender and that the system is ineffective in determining who is a danger. She believes that Karla Homolka got off too lightly but accepts it because it resulted in Paul Bernardo’s life sentence. Though she pities Homolka’s children, Eve thinks that like any pedophile, Homolka’s crimes mean she’s not entitled to her privacy.

Rape, torture, and murder are three of the most heinous crimes there are. Any rate of recidivism for these kinds of crimes is cause for alarm, so while most ex-cons like Eve deserve to have their crimes forgotten, Karla Homolka most certainly does not.

*Name changed for privacy reasons

I hold my fist in the air to represent resistance, to show that together we are stronger, hands ready to fight back against oppression and hate. A raised, clenched fist, is a symbol of support and solidarity with others. It expresses power, strength, unity, and defiance.

Fists for freedom! Revolution is now, things must change with a heavy hand. The fist salute dates back to ancient Assyria. It was then and still is a symbol of resistance in the face of violence.

It was used widely in the Black Panther movement, Anarchist and Communist groups, labor unions, civil rights activists, leftists, and other subversive anti-establishment groups that challenge the status quo.

Food Not Bombs uses a purple fist with a carrot in it as their logo. Protesters against Trump’s order to ban immigrants from Muslim countries have also used the fist as a symbol of HELL NO!

Even though the fist is a popular visual signifier of defiance and solidarity, Angela Davis did not throw up her fist at the Women’s March on Washington DC as she did famously during the Black Panther movement of the 60s. She knew that women were holding signs with words that were to heavy to carry the real weight: Black Lives Matter.

Donald Trump decided to throw up his disgusting tiny little limp fist during his inauguration speech and I almost puked. This world appropriates everything, the same thing happened with the swastika.

The fist in the air is meant to be a genuine political statement and not an emogii, not something trivial. This is not a peace sign or smiley face, it is the symbol of a revolt.

American runners John Carlos and Tommy Smith (both people of color) raised their fists in an iconic stance during the medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympic games. It was a poignant salute to civil rights and a bold stance against racism in sports and beyond.

The co-opting of the raised fist as a patriotic symbol is ridiculous. It is ironic when politicians use it, since it is really about fighting white men in suits. Bernie Sanders raised his fist, Gloria Steinem raised hers, so many white people trying to be progressive and intersectional are actually just appropriating and acting like fucking saviors.

We need to stand in solidarity but understand we are different. We have not suffered like the people we raise our fist too. Our struggle must be to dismantle white supremacy and band together, organize and resist. We need to lift up those who have been discriminated against. Communicate resistance now!

The raised fist does not mean aggression or dominance. It is the power of the people united. The manifestation of physical strength.

I carry a rubber fist with me at Pride parades and protests because it is controversial. The fist gets more attention than the flowers in my hair or the glitter on my lips. A giant flopping dildo fist. It’s heavy. I feel like I was going to dislocate my pinky finger just flailing it around. It is an extension of my own proud and filthy fist of fury.

During the Pride parade I always extend the fist so people can fist bump it, which is always a crowd pleaser, especially with little kids, they have no idea. I love when people react to it, like holy shit is that a fist? Yes, it is. Her name is Ivana Punishu.

I bought the fist on Valentine’s day with a good friend of mine. It was in the clearance bin because the package had been cracked, score! We took it home and put fake tattoos all over it. Years later it is still the funniest and most shocking thing I own. I love bringing it out in public as a conversation starter.

Fisting as a sex act is an oddity of the porn world that most of us have rarely experienced in real life. Not all lesbians go elbow deep in each other as one might imagine.

There are safe ways to practice the art of fisting which involve stretching and relaxing, there are certain positions the hand must be in, and definitely a lot of lubrication. I have only done that once, and it was crazy. Not anything I would want to do again to be honest with you.

My gynecologist was definitely perplexed. So I carry the rubber fist to symbolize not only the freedom fist of solidarity but for the disenfranchised and used porn stars, the people who do what they want in bed and explore the depths of each others bodies, the ones who push their own limits and challenge what society accepts as normal, and all that is taboo.

Fisting is about love and trust, a deep bond not to be taken lightly.

Drawing hands is so hard. The intricate bends and puffy parts, the scars and wrinkles, the perfect lighting, strange contortions and artist license. In art a fist represents so much. In life you can bump fists, a popular greeting, or you can throw your fist in the air in protest. Fighters and rioters , olympians and bros, and people at rap shows all throw the fist in the air. Punching at the invisible barbed wire fence over head, reaching toward a god that does not exist. Thrusting through the cold air overhead the fist stands above proudly, regal, and beautiful.

Featured in the Washington Post: Inaguration Day

Fists of fury wild eyed wonderful. Bare knuckle bruiser, fighting, scrapping, pounding, heavy handed hard hitter, smack, and pummel into smithereens. A boxer with fists taped in puffy red gloves, protective mits to ease the blow, lessen the chance of breaking a hand or a face, cracking a skull, causing death or even worse- disgrace.

I want my fists to come in peace. Kind hands, hands reaching out with food and love, hands that caress smooth skin on warm summer sundress afternoons, they pet cats and scratch dogs behind the ear.

Callused, covered in scales, double jointed, strange hands, big hands, pleasure tentacles, appendages that really get the job done, hands that craft things, hands that make art, and love. My hands hold other hands, clenching at flowers and carrots, reaching up to the sky with honor and dignity.

Throw your fist in the air because you care. It matters.

On June 1st, 2017, Premier Philippe Couillard announced that the time has come to reopen the constitutional debate in Quebec. The response across much of Quebec and Canada was: WHY?

As it turns out, the announcement is merely a confirmation of a promise Couillard made in 2013 when running for leadership of the province. Back then he boldly said he planned to get Quebec to sign the constitution by Canada’s 150th anniversary. As it stands, Quebec has never signed the Canadian constitution. In order to understand why, we need to go back in time.

(The story is a long one, so apologies to any history buffs who feel that vital information is missing.)

Before 1982, Canada’s constitution remained in London and only the British government could amend it. However, the act of getting permission from Great Britain became a purely symbolic act as Canada and other former British colonies asserted their independence. All Canada had to do was ask the British to amend their constitution and the crown would rubber stamp their request. Nonetheless, in the late 1970s and early 80s, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, father of our current prime minister, came up with a plan to bring Canada’s constitution home.

Trudeau’s plan consisted of repatriating the constitution, modifying it by entrenching his charter of rights, what we now know as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and establishing an amendment formula. In order to do so, he got provincial leaders together, one of whom was the father of the Quebec Sovereigntist movement, René Lévesque.

The goal was to get the provinces to agree to Trudeau’s plan. At the same time, the Prime Minister put the question of what was allowed to the Supreme Court in a case we now know as the Patriation Reference.

The Supreme Court had to answer many questions, but the main one was whether Ottawa was bound by law to get the consent of the provinces to amend the constitution. The Court said no.

Quebec wanted recognition of itself as a distinct society, a veto over constitutional amendments, as well as an opt out clause that would allow provinces an out of certain aspects of the constitution with some kind of compensation so they would not have to pay for any federal actions that were not in their interests. Lévesque and Quebec were denied, and the constitution was repatriated and entrenched without Quebec’s consent.

Two more attempts were made to get Quebec to sign the constitution, but both failed. As it has never consented to the current constitution, Quebec remains bound by it only because it remains part of Canada.

With Couillard’s announcement came the release of a two hundred page document outlining his government’s vision for Quebec and its place in Canada. The document cannot be called a plan because it sets no timeline for Quebec to sign and no step by step procedure his government would want to use.

The document has a lot of words, but says nothing of value.

It asserts the Quebecois identity as “our way of being Canadian” but when it comes to identifying the people of Quebec, the text limits them to four groups: French speakers, English speakers and the First Nations and Inuit. Allophones such as the Jews, the Greeks, the Italians, Eastern Europeans and the Asian communities who helped to build Quebec are almost completely left out.

The only time Allophones are mentioned in the text is in the context of “interculturalism” and “integration” which, when put together, sound dangerously like assimilation. Since Quebec policy treats Allophones as potential Francophones by making their children go to French school, this is hardly surprising. The text also fails to address the growing problem of Xenophobia in Quebec, which begs the question as to whether the document’s definition of the English Speaking Quebecois refers exclusively to white English-speakers in the province.

What Couillard’s document does do is reiterate what Quebec wants from a relationship with Canada as party to the constitution:

  • Recognition of the Quebec Nation
  • Respect for Quebec’s areas of jurisdiction
  • Autonomy
  • Flexibility and asymmetry
  • Cooperation and administrative agreements
  • Shared institutions

This is all sealed together with the assertion that Quebec’s “full and complete participation in Canada” must come from a “concrete and meaningful recognition” of the province as “the only predominantly French-speaking state in North America and as such, heir to a rich and unique culture that must be protected, supported, and developed.”

Couillard’s plan to reopen the constitutional debate has been met with mixed feelings.

Bloc Québecois leader Martine Ouellet acknowledges that it’s a political move but welcomes it as an opportunity to reopen discussions about Quebec sovereignty. Though the Parti Québecois has decided to put aside the issue of sovereignty for the time being, leader Jean-François Lisée commended Couillard for acknowledging the need to address Quebec’s place within Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has more or less said it’s not a topic to be reopened, while Amir Khadir, an MNA for Québec Solidaire, claims it’s a ploy by the Couillard government to deflect attention from the scandals surrounding the Premier and his party.

It is Khadir’s interpretation of Couillard’s move that seems the most plausible. A simple Google search of Couillard’s name with the word “scandal” will reveal much about the shortcomings of his government. There is everything from the arrest of deputy-premier Nathalie Normandeau for corruption, to Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette’s mismanagement of our health care system and Barrette’s defensive victim-blaming, to the police surveillance scandal, to the Bombardier executive bonus scandal available to learn about online. With his government up for reelection next year, there is much Couillard needs to deflect attention from.

Let’s not take the bait, and keep our eyes where they belong: not on a can of worms that should not be opened, but on the government holding the can opener.

When I think of the word pride I automatically think of the LGBTQ community, I think of the Stonewall activists, I think of my gay, lesbian, transgender and queer warriors that have paved the rainbow brick road for me to love as I see fit. The stone dykes and sweet twinks who have danced and marched to overcome stigma. These sparkly strong freedom and equality yearning hearts beating broken down by a society meant to be straight and white. The fallen brothers and sisters who have been left dead in dumpsters due to crimes of hate.

Denial of rights and basic necessities or even your life due to who you take to bed at night or which bathroom you use? There is nothing easy about this life. How can anybody accuse someone of choosing to be tortured or forcing physically healthy people into cruel, painful conversion therapy to normalize them.

I can’t believe in some ways we have come so far but still trans women of color die by the handfuls each week. Still LGBTQ youth are targeted, still people cannot even take a piss safely. If we can pee in peace we can be in peace.

Pride is a word that has been appropriated by a disenfranchised community of misfits and perfectly fits where hearts and not parts are what matters, love is love is love is lovely. Pride is seeing the Gay Straight Alliance that you helped start in high school with your friends (because there wasn’t one) march in the Pride parade. Pride is knowing that a silly little club is actually a safe place that saves lives. Pride is knowing two trans women that needed to be there.

I know that I am meant to be part of great things. I am proud that I can be part of things that help others. My pride is in my community. We promote visibility, self-affirmation, dignity, accessibility, and freedom from the binding of heteronormativity.


Pride is standing up for what you believe in, it is not backing down when faced with unjust adversity. I will not live in a world where being honest with yourself and simply telling the truth is impossible.

Censorship and evil gender expectations within a racist capitalist system of oppression that dates back to the dawn of government. Pride is a celebration of diversity. Pride should be about love and not about hate.

Many groups fight for their proper slice of humanity. Pride can be used to describe the Native Americans at Standing Rock, being beat down for protecting the water. We should all have more pride in our Earth.

Pride is a single mother surviving and making sure her children are safe and warm. Pride is the immigrant family who didn’t stand down when the brick was thrown through their business, they have seen a lot worse. Pride is connected to culture and struggle, to diaspora and overcoming oppression.

Black Pride is a movement encouraging people to take pride in being black, Asian pride is a positive stance on being Asian, and White Pride is a slogan used by white supremacists, neo-nazis,and racists.

Isn’t it interesting when pride becomes one of those mortal sins that everyone with Christian guilt is so afraid of? Good ol’ american pride is always taken too far, these are the same folks who voted for trump (I am purposefully not capitalizing his name and spell check gives it a pass because trump is a real word).

The American dream is exclusive to those who came here willingly. The American dream excludes those bonded by slavery, those who were raped and pillaged, their hopes and dreams burned to the ground.

White is not something to be proud of. I am proud of my Polish, Irish and Scottish roots for sure, but not proud of what the color my skin represents. Raping Natives of their land and stealing others from their native lands and forcing them into slavery, and then a history of oppressive behavior and supremacy, nah, no pride in that ,bro.

I was always taught to be proud of myself and my accomplishments, but also to practice humility and be humble. The spotlight needs to shine on others once in awhile, but bask in it when the heat is on your face.

Praising and supporting others is crucial. We need each other to survive. Love and a deeper connection to all humanity is the only answer. I am proud to be pansexual, I used to be bisexual but not I do not believe in the gender binary, hearts not parts!

Last year I went on a adventure alone to California. I couch surfed and then eventually ended up at San Francisco PRIDE. It was magical, so much beauty and talent, but I was missing something, MY FRIENDS!

Pride is about lifting each other up and feeding off of the positivity of the ones you love. Pride was dead inside, it was cold without the warm embrace of my people. Pride means standing up with and for others. It means taking off your hat to a diverse and ticking world.

I am pissed that the Buffalo Pride celebration is going to cost $10 to get into. This festival was always free, then last year it was $5, now this? I do not understand how capitalism and gentrification always ooze in and taint the fun. A reminder that we have so much more to fight.

This festival is now not all inclusive. It is a direct disrespect to the poor, to those who already lack in privilege. So lets take the streets!

Get ready for the party, I have 5 shows this week. My boobs are going to be sore from all the tassel revolutions.

I love riding my trike through the sea of bliss. A safe place in a scary world. Pride weekend is like Christmas only better, I love everything that this time represents, rainbow flags and smiling fags, dykes on bikes and queers with booty shirts, unicorns and drag queens, trans men and non binary beauties. This is the time to let your freak flag show.

There will be the haters saying we will go to hell, but I bet hell has a better DJ anyways. There is no conversion therapy here, only a celebration of what makes us unique and the differences that connect and suppress us. Even if it’s sunny this parade always gets rained on, which is fine because we love rainbows.

On May 24, 2017 Quebec construction workers walked off the job after failing to sign a collective agreement with their employers. Though the provincial government threatened pass Bill 142 which would force them back to work the following Monday if they failed to do so, the Couillard government chose to table said bill and construction workers remain on strike.

Labour disputes are as Québecois as poutine and tire sur glace. No matter the time of year, some group from public prosecutors to hotel workers to teachers to nurses is always on strike because in Quebec we have an expression:

“Au Québec, on syndique!”

In Quebec, we unionize.

Though for many people labour disputes are nothing more than a public nuisance characterised by service delays and screaming picketers, unions play a vital role in protecting thirty to forty percent of workers in Quebec.

Historically, it was the unions that fought for living wages, reasonable working hours, and safer working conditions. Unions were at the forefront of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution that fought government corruption and the oppressive hold of the Catholic Church on the province.

Today unions and the laws that protect them keep big business from trampling all over their employees and no case says that better than the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in 2014 in United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 503 v. Wal Mart Canada Corp..

We’ve all heard stories like this before.

Wal-Mart opens a store, treats its workers like garbage, and when they exercise their legal right to form an association to protect themselves the company fires the lot of them by closing the store. Wal-Mart always claims that it’s because the store in question wasn’t profitable and had nothing to do with the unionization of its employees. Normally companies like Wal-Mart get away with this sort of thing, but not in Quebec.

In Quebec we have the Labour Code, which establishes strict rules of what employers and employees can and cannot do when it comes to unions and collective bargaining. Though the Code provides rules on unions of employees and associations of employers, this article will focus on the unions.

The Labour Code defines a union or association of employees as a:

“a group of employees constituted as a professional syndicate, union, brotherhood or otherwise, having as its objects the study, safeguarding and development of the economic, social and educational interests of its members and particularly the negotiation and application of collective agreements”

Associations of employees can engage in bargaining with their employer(s) to establish a collective agreement, which is a written contract between them establishing the conditions of employment. These agreements are generally drafted, negotiated and signed when the union is formed, and when they’re up for renewal. That said, the Code has a series of obligations and rights for employers and employees.

Employees in Quebec have the right to belong to an association of their choice and can participate in said association’s formation, activities, and management. Employers and their representatives are not allowed to threaten or intimidate someone with the intent to scare them out of joining or participating in such an association. At the same time, associations of employees are not allowed to use those tactics to get a worker to join them.

Unions are not allowed to solicit membership during working hours, and they’re not allowed to hold meetings at the place of work unless they are certified by the Labour Tribunal and have their employer’s consent.

Employers are not allowed to “dominate, hinder or finance the formation or the activities” of the unions, a provision undoubtedly put in place due to Quebec’s long tradition of corruption. They are not allowed to refuse to hire someone for exercising their rights as per the Labour Code, and they’re not allowed to engage in threats, intimidation, discrimination, reprisals or dismissals for exercising those rights.

If an employer engages in these illegal behaviors, employees can file a complaint with Quebec’s Administrative Labour Tribunal within thirty days of the sanction or action. If the Administrative Labour Tribunal agrees that an employee tried to exercise their right under the Labour Code, any action taken against said employee by their employer is presumed to have been the result of attempting to exercise said right.

It’s then up to the employer to prove those actions were for a “good and sufficient” reason. If the Tribunal doesn’t buy the employer’s explanation, it can in turn order the reinstatement of the employee within eight days of the tribunal’s decision, and even order that the employer pay the employee an indemnity equivalent to the salary and benefits lost due to reprisals against them.

The Code establishes rules of how unions can decide to go on strike, voting procedures within the union, and the certification process in which the union applies for recognition by the Administrative Labour Tribunal to act as representative for the workers of a given employer. It describes who counts as a union member and procedures for negotiating a collective agreement.

What Wal-Mart was caught for is a violation of article 59 of the Labour Code that bars employers from changing the conditions of employment during the unionization process. The union successfully argued before the Supreme Court that closing the store was a prohibited change in employment conditions. The Court ordered Wal-Mart to compensate its former employees.

If all negotiations for a collective agreement fail, either the union or the employer or both can apply to government to force arbitration. Arbitration is somewhere on the legal spectrum between mediation and a trial. Like in mediation, both parties submit their dispute to a third with the goal of finding a decent solution for both parties, but like a trial the decision is binding. This typically happens in cases of serious impasse.

Though strikes in Quebec can be a public nuisance, labour laws and unions not only protect Quebec workers but also allowed us to spank Wal-Mart.

* Featured image: lifeinquebec.com

Let it flow from your insides out, let yourself lose sensibility. I missed you for so long, I longed for you entirely. Now you touch me and I feel nothing. Nothing but a tinge of anger and a whole lot of embarrassment.

So please don’t touch me. All I wanted was your touch but that time has passed and I got used to regretting you. I got used to the idea that I am enough. I know that I need no justification to breathe, I need no other human to complete my essence, and I certainly do not need a bear hug from someone who I could still love at the drop of a hat. Someone I still think of with a tear in my eye.

Yes, its too soon. Don’t squeeze me, don’t rob me of my dignity, hold me all night long or don’t touch me at all.

Again there is that feeling that all I want is to be requited. But what does that really mean anyways? I love the excitement of not knowing whats going to happen next.

Sure I want to be touched, sure I want to be adored, of course I need love. But I don’t look for it and certainly don’t expect anything but the bitter after burn of rejection.

I am a different breed. I dance and I feed. I float through the night on a trike with a borrowed light. Lost. Lost and alone, unconcerned, and on fire. I burn for forgiveness, I yearn to be stopped in my tracks. Call out my privilege, I dare you.

I crush on people with the expectation that nothing will come of it. I defeat the pain before it cuts in. I crush the crush while the talons extend. My armor goes up and my guard is on duty.

I sign up for projects when I can’t finish my own thoughts. I can’t trade my talent for money, just the satisfaction of seeing someone satisfied. I love watching dreams bud and blossom by my pen. I have a zillion dreams that are awaiting fruition. I know that I need to take myself into consideration but often forget. I blow off people who I love the most, late for everything.

I also realize that its not easy for anyone. I can’t imagine being someone else. If I think its hard, me, a beautiful privileged white woman, then shit, it must get much worse than this.

Energy and time are precious commodities, when I dedicate myself to the resistance, when I put my life into helping others, I feel gratified, I am no longer hungry or alone.

I need no justification of my talents, just seeing how small deeds can lighten the load for others. My load is superficial, loneliness is temporal.

And then there is someone lurking 10 hours away, I want to surprise you, or I want to be gay. I long to be with a unicorn. Lavandar, pink, baby blue. I want to smell the cheerios and rotten lake water. I want to ride bikes all night until the sun comes up, but I never feel fast enough, always second guessing my abilities. Stunted by my own doubts, afraid of fear, accompanied by demons that have been there forever, before I was born, and will outlive my essence.

Carry on, move forward, keep on keeping on, some nights are better, others cut like rusted knives. A dull hellish gashing metal bit. Manmade monstrosity.

I want to write a song like Hotel California. A bizarre song hated and loved equally, make millions, go down in history. What is history? Can I really change it all?

Sometimes I need to escape reality. I do that by painting, traveling, and going out on the lake with my Dad. His boat is called the Lady Fred, after my grandmother, the sweetest woman in the world. Her photo is on there, and it makes my heart soar. I miss her smile everyday, the sun hasn’t been the same since she died. She is the butterfly that floats on by.

It felt incredible to have the wind run its tendrils through my whispy crispy faded hair (which is finally getting long again). It felt right to get smacked by air. Oxygen and water, bonding time with my pops.

I am lucky that my parents are my best friends. I regret my spoiled brat moments. All they ever wanted was my happiness. They tell me now that I am too radical. Is it radical to love? Is it radical to be kind? Being vegan and helping others is the radical that I yearn for. It is right.

They thought my hair color was a phase too, and the I am wearing the same ripped up shirt and punk skirt that I wore when I was 15. While we may not agree on everything, I still love them.

I was having a late night paint night with a couple of friends, working on a flyer with a girl in a cage and a guy playing piano. We thought The Joy of Painting would kick start creative flow. Boy did it! Bob Ross should have done the play by play for porn, his voice is so calming and inherently sexual.

Perhaps its because painting gets me off. Art is life, it is sensual and personal. Bob Ross is magical, he creates crazy shit in a short amount of time. I would get angry because even if I listened to him it wouldn’t be the same. He taught me that everyone is different and every style is beauty. You look away for a moment and BOOM there it is.

I had no idea that he was ex military, dealing with death and destruction by painting beautiful landscapes and teaching others. I bet a lot of women (and men) watched that show and thought he was hot. I am thinking about doing a dramatic reading of some of his lines.

Sometimes when you are standing too close to it is difficult to see

Just put a little sunshine in there

You can create any illusion that you want in here

In a few years when someone sees this painting they will know that you had a fantastic day when you made this

You have experienced the joy of painting

Gently

There we are

Very gently

Very easy

Very light

Very gentle

There we are

Do you see how it fluffs up?

So fantastic

Sensual

We’ve got a nice little cloud there.

(Awwwwwe Yeaaaa)

After years of tax exemptions, the religious communities in the City of Montreal are facing big tax bills. It has recently come to light that once exempt institutions like the Cote des Neiges Presbyterian Church are receiving tax bills from the City. Inspectors from the City of Montreal are now visiting churches more regularly, taking pictures and noting how every space in the church is used.

Municipal property inspections are nothing new. It’s how the City of Montreal assesses how to tax you and for how much. Religious institutions, however, are the exception.

According to the Quebec Act Respecting Municipal Taxation, a property “in the name of a religious institution… used by it or gratuitously by another religious institution… not to derive income but in the immediate pursuit of the religious or charitable objects” is exempt from all municipal or school property taxes. That means that as long as a given space is owned by a religious institution and is used exclusively for worship or other religious ends, it is considered to be exempt from property taxes.

The problem is that many religious institutions in Montreal don’t use their property exclusively for worship, hosting vital community organizations in available spaces within their buildings. The tax bills and increased inspections likely mean that the City is interpreting the law more strictly so that they can tax houses of worship for the spaces they don’t use for religious services and prayer.

The City of Montreal claims that they are simply trying to prevent people from defrauding the system, but not everyone agrees.

M, an expert on municipal assessments and taxation, said that they’re doing it because it will result in tax revenue from sources that weren’t providing any tax revenue before.

I asked M what the municipal assessors would be looking for when deciding how much to tax a religious institution.

“Proof that there are parts of a church that aren’t being used for worship,” he replied.

A room used for worship is tax exempt, a room used for anything else would hypothetically be subject to taxation.
I asked M if the City could tax some parts of a house of worship while exempting other parts of the same building from taxation.

“They can split the assessment, and they do. I’ve seen it before. They can send a bill that indicates the taxable portion and the non-taxable portion,” he said.

That begs the question as to whether facilities that while not used exclusively for worship, would be considered an essential part of any building, let alone a church. Though people rarely worship while on the toilet, for example, it should be considered an essential part of any space’s facilities and subject to any exemptions tied to a given space.

Though some have praised the City’s move to start taxing religious institutions as an assertion of the separation of church and state and a break for taxpayers, there is reason to believe the move will come at the expense of community organizations.

NDG City Councilor Peter McQueen points out that important community groups in NDG such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, as well as the NDG Food Depot and the NDG Community Council rely on the City’s churches to provide spaces for them to meet. He explained that this is because historically the churches were involved in charity work separate from the state.

I asked McQueen how he felt these groups would be affected by the new taxation rules.

“Terrible! I mean, if these groups had to leave the churches they’d be in a major quandary here in NDG.”

He said that if these groups had to find other places to meet, the City would have to step up and meet the demand. Currently in Cote des Neiges and NDG most community spaces are used for sports or borough offices. Houses of worship have until now been filling the need for spaces for these community groups to meet, but that may change with the new taxation rules.

At the end of the day, the issue comes down to one of money.

Will this move by the City of Montreal make the City more money, or cost it money in the long run?

Peter McQueen thinks it will end up costing the City, as it will have to step up to meet the demand for community meeting spaces that had previously been filled by the churches.

M thinks the City may choose to simply not fill that need, which would come at the expense of the community that relies on these groups to help the needy and provide safe activities for their children.

There is the additional risk that some congregations may fold altogether under the new taxation rules, as their dwindling flocks and basic expenses put houses of worship in the red before they ever see a tax bill. They can always contest the tax assessments in court, and there will likely be legal challenges if there are enough tax dollars involved.

At the end of the day, it will be the community that pays for this.

Sometimes things happen, life happens, a kiss on the cheek turns to lust, turns to action, then a break of trust. How can you navigate heartache and bliss within yourself and every other person that your current person has ever slept with?

I am guilty of a disregard or lack in judgement, not caring about eventual consequences while in the moment. I didn’t make anyone want me. They acted first. They wanted me and I am solely to blame? I don’t think so. It takes two to tango sister.

Sure, I could have said something and put the nail in the coffin sooner, but thats not what I wanted. I knew it was going to be the eventual outcome, so I got deeper and deeper into deceit. Keeping out the details.

I lost a friend because I slept with her ex. Plain and simple. I never planned it and certainly didn’t mean to hurt anyone. It happened, I knew that as soon as it came to a head I would lose a friend over it. I just did my best while I was in her life and I hope everything else works out. I know she feels betrayed and thinks I’m a piece of moldy trash.

In reality I thank him for coming clean. I am glad to not be living with a secret, full disclosure is important to any relationship. Losing friends is a good time for emotional spring cleaning. I cannot and will not talk to either of them ever again. There is no coming back from this.

All of the anger and hate is focused on me because she is still in love with him. She can forgive him because she wants to claim him forever. That’s fine, he loves her too, they can be a beautiful entity forever. I never wanted to be in a relationship with anyone. It was just a fleeting moment.

It is not right to put it all on my shoulders, that says that he is just an object, thoughtless, incapable of fucking up. We cannot let people off the hook for the decisions they have made. He left her before he kissed me. Of course I am not innocent, I could have said no, but I didn’t. I am not entirely to blame either.

I am a deviant slut and he is an angel. I am to blame for everything. This is everything that feminism fights against. Relationships are not property! I do not claim to manage any of my partner’s sexuality. That is rape culture. I did not force anyone to want me. I did not put a magical spell on them or throw myself at them.

Blaming “the other woman” is toxic, competitive, and oppressive. We are pitted against each other to compete for a small crew of “good men”. Women get chastised and blamed even by other women. Shame the slut and cast her away like a used condom.

How can you hold claim over someone when you had someone else? You can’t “keep” every person that you have ever been with. I know the “bro” code is a thing, but I don’t truly understand because people are not objects. You do not own the person you are dating, especially after a break up. Relationships are a daily choice, a mutual trust, not an obligation. Things change.

Every action has a reaction. I have never pursued a person who was in a relationship, but someone who is single and willing and barking up my tree doesn’t come along every day. I have been single for a very long time, never really looking, just waiting to see what comes next in the adventure.

I have come to the conclusion that this city is too small (I mean this city as any city). This world is too small and everybody is somebody’s ex. I can’t change the past. I will live in the smite zone and must deal with the fact that someone I used to love feels that I am a succubus-swine-dirty-cunt-homewrecking-whore.

Currently one of the hardest things to do as a writer is cover the explosion of nepotism, treason, espionage, bigotry, misogyny, greed, and comical idiocy that makes up the 45th presidency of the United States. Nothing so pointedly demonstrates this difficulty than Allan J. Lichtman’s book The Case for Impeachment.

Allan J. Lichtman is a legend.

A distinguished professor of history at American University in Washington DC, he has successfully predicted the outcome of eight US presidential elections. In November 2016 he predicted that the Orange Con-Man would win the election, and that he would be impeached. It is therefore no surprise that Lichtman and his publishers worked to get this book out before any such proceedings could take place.

After a couple of introductory chapters explaining impeachment rules, Lichtman, chapter by chapter, launches into a full scale indictment of the Orange Buffoon.

It’s a good book, but it’s incomplete. It’s incomplete because it could have used the notion of impeachment to make a broader point about the state of American politics, but didn’t, and it’s incomplete because that Entitled Orange Bully damns himself too quickly for most writers to follow.

The book is focused and because of that, it’s an easy read. In each chapter Lichtman talks about Cheeto-Head’s conduct before and after taking office, ties it to a legal issue or an aspect of the President’s character, and then argues it as grounds for impeachment.

Before we get into the indictments in The Case for Impeachment, we need to talk about impeachment itself.

What is Impeachment?

Impeachment does not guarantee a removal from public office. It does not fire the president. What it does is act as a formal charge of misconduct that can be brought against the president, the vice-president, and all civil officers in the United States. The power to impeach is vested in the US Congress, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives, though only the Senate has power to remove an official from public office following an impeachment.

The process works like this: any member of either house in Congress can draw up articles of impeachment aka charges against said public official. The House can approve or reject article(s) of impeachment, usually following an investigation, by a simple majority vote. If the House votes in favor of impeachment, the accused is impeached.

The case is then brought before the Senate which holds a sort of trial. Each side can present witnesses and the president is allowed to use his own lawyer if he wants. If the one facing impeachment is the president, the case is presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, currently Justice John Roberts, who has had clashes with the current president before.

Once the trial is heard, the case goes to the Senate, which acts as a sort of jury. It takes a two thirds majority in the Senate consisting of sixty-seven votes to remove an official. If convicted, the president would be removed from office and lose any privileges and immunities he had in office, and the vice-president would take over.

In the nineties, the House voted in favor of impeaching Bill Clinton, but because he was popular at the time, his opponents failed to get the sixty-seven votes needed to remove him, thus allowing Clinton to finish up his term.

Grounds for Impeachment

According to the US Constitution, the president can be removed from office “for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” According to Lichtman, this has historically been given broad interpretation allowing for impeachment due to conduct before or after taking office. Lichtman also contends that a conviction for any of the aforementioned acts is not pre-requisite, just the fact that the president did them. That said, there is also the Emoluments clause in the Constitution that says that:

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

An emolument is a salary, fee, or profit, and the notion of emoluments is especially relevant given the mounting evidence that the Orange Administration and the Russians colluded with one another.

Lichtman’s indictments of Nacho-Face are numerous.

He talks about the president’s war on women, mentioning sexual harassment charges and disgusting entitled behavior. Unfortunately, his chapter on the subject does not go far enough. He refrains from mentioning accusations that the president sexually assaulted a thirteen-year-old girl while at a party of now convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the president who prided himself on procuring underage girls for rich men. It does not address the Orange Bully’s remark that women who get abortions should be punished.

Lichtman also talks about the president’s disgraceful business practices, pointing out that for a man claiming to be for getting jobs for working Americans, his track record suggests a preference for employing illegal immigrants because they’re more easily exploitable. He mentions the man’s denial of climate change, but perhaps unwisely implies that the Syrian refugee crisis was largely due to it, when we can all agree that drought does not make evil leaders do what Assad has done.

In an extensive chapter devoted to Russia, the author describes how deeply entangled the president’s businesses are with forces in Eastern Europe. He also devotes chapters to the Orange administration gross disregard for the Constitution, the law, and basic human decency.

One of the best things about this book is that it is fundamentally an American work. There are little to no comparisons with other countries or leaders and refrains from references to international history.

This perhaps is a mistake.

The Orange Administration is doing what stereotypical Republicans have dreamed of: an America where the poor look to people of colour and immigrants as the source of their misfortunes, allowing the upper one percent to hold onto their wealth by cutting their own taxes, effectively destroying American healthcare, education, employment, and infrastructure.

History has taught us that people eventually catch on to who is really hurting them, and as the French Revolution teaches us, a reluctance of the wealthy to help the poor leads to catastrophic civil unrest. If the White House isn’t careful, they may one day be faced with an angry mob and a guillotine.

Have you ever taken a different way to work for no apparent reason? Without thought, I took a different turn than normal, shortly after one of my best friends came the other way on her bike. She was also taking a different route, getting out of work early and I was running late. We met in the middle as if it was fate, and it turned out she needed me that day.

I love when that happens. It happens to me so often that I feel as if I am living in a dream half the time. I wonder if I just never came back from an acid trip and am floating on a cloud in a world where everything is connected.

She told me that I always call or text her at just the right moment, and she does the same to me. It’s like I get these feelings, I know I’m supposed to be doing what I am doing while I am doing it. Even the most mundane experiences all lead up to bigger and more impactful moments.

It’s like when you think about someone or have a dream about them and suddenly you run into them at the grocery store the next day. It can be obscure people you never even thought you had a connection to. My roommate mentioned her ex’s brother when something reminded her of him and boom, there he was riding down the street on his bike like clockwork, she hadn’t seen him for years.

A friend told me that pot saved her life. She explained that everyday she gets in her car at exactly 10AM to go to work, it’s just her routine. On this fateful day she decided to take a toke before heading out, so she was walking down the stairs at 10:01 and heard a loud smash, someone had hit her parked car, totaling it. She would have just been getting in her car at impact.

My car broke down once and I had to walk home in a snow storm, as I reached the end of the driveway my mom called me. I picked up to tell her I was there even though I was cold and moments from the door. At the very second I said hello a tree crashed down into our driveway, onto my mom’s car, and right where I would have been standing to open the door.

There was a girl in college, we showed up wearing the same costume (to the T) multiple times. The same glitter eyelashes. Sparkly pretty things. It was a sign. I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes (I used to think that Ace of Base song was I saw the Sun). She liked it better when it rained and her smile illuminated all. I knew. I loved her, I still do. It was uncanny, it happened many times throughout the course of our friendship.

Soulmates are real. Proof that everything is connected, and not in a crystal grabbing sort of way. Physics confuse me but maybe there is math involved, an X or a Y, some variables, some things that cannot be explained by numbers alone.

We had a dog named Rocky, he was incredible because he survived bone cancer and had three legs. He still swam faster than younger four-legged dogs. The night he passed away some strange occurrences happened. He closed his eyes for the last time and all of the power in our house went out. We said our goodbyes to our dead dog in the dark. I knew it was a deeper almost magical connection to the universe.

Synchronicities are meaningful coincidences, more than just happy accidents. Synchronicity is a theory by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung to describe the temporally coincident occurrences of causal events. It explains the moments that seem just too perfect to be true.

Serendipity means a fortunate happenstance or pleasant surprise. While this word is more fanciful and has a similar meaning I figured I would go with synchronicity because it didn’t remind me of a John Cusak movie.

I love John Cusak, his movies are perfect for the hopeless romantic in us all. Everybody dreams of having a Lloyd Dobbler court them with a boom box and a Peter Gabriel song blasting. There is hope in his realness, there is accessibility in those love stories., and beauty in the timelessness of it all. People who are eternally heartbroken like me often hear that everything happens for a reason, and it’s not bullshit.

I feel like my life is a movie most of the time, perfectly curated and overflowing with luck and great timing. When that perfect song plays at just the right moment. When the DJ knows the soundtrack of your life every time it’s more than just a “great minds think alike” situation. People come in and out of your life in seemingly random moments, but everything matters, everything has meaning.

Even as I was writing this an artist was hanging art in the gallery across the hall, she stopped to eat, and then I put some music on. Tune Yards, she exclaimed that she was just thinking of putting on this very album when she went in the gallery. And it was just random pandora. How did it know?

I am writing an article about synchronicity and it happens! A connection, a moment shared, same wavelength. Feeding off vibes and energy we all look for little cosmic reassurances. When that happens I know all is right, I am on course. Oh Sweet synchronicity, what have you done to me?

It is appalling that in 2017 we still need to have a conversation about sexual consent.

In April 2017, Alexandra Brodsky published an article in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law titled RAPE ADJACENT: Imagining Legal Responses to Nonconsensual Condom Removal. It brought to light the sinister practice of men taking off condoms without their partners’ consent (the slang term for it being “stealthing”). This practice does not exclusively affect women having sex with men, as gay men have also been victimized.

This article is not going to dignify the practice by calling it by its slang term as doing so trivializes a violation of a person’s right to bodily integrity and self-determination. It is not going to address the personal failings of those – usually MRAs – who advocate for or practice non-consensual condom removal, though it is HIGHLY tempting to do so.

This article IS going to revisit the notion of consent and discuss the practice of nonconsensual condom removal and the potential legal ramifications of it under Canadian criminal and civil law. This article will limit discussions to nonconsensual condom removal as I covered the topic of consent in detail in December 2015 and thus far those laws remain unchanged.

Consent is not transferable

By law, consent is the voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. Without consent, sexual activity becomes sexual assault.

It is widely recognized that consent for one sexual act does not constitute blanket consent for any and all others. Consenting to vaginal sex does not mean, for example, that you also consent to anal sex. In the context of nonconsensual condom removal, agreeing to have sex with a condom does not mean you consent to have sex without one.

There is no consent if a person, having consented to sexual activity, “expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to continue to engage in the activity”. That means that a person has every right to stop things at any time, and continuing despite their reluctance constitutes sexual assault. This is notion is important as nonconsensual condom removal often happens right before re-penetration. That means that the guy in question will pull out, take the condom off, and then re-penetrate their partner.

If the victim catches the person doing this and demands a stop to the activity and the person persists, that person crosses the line between consensual sexual activity and sexual assault.

As Brodsky points out, most victims of nonconsensual condom removal only realized the condom removal at the moment of re-penetration, when their partner ejaculated, or because their partner told them the next morning.

Intent is important

When Brodsky interviewed victims of nonconsensual condom removal, what was telling was the behavior of their partners afterward. According to the article, the men were dismissive, and often refused to help pay for emergency contraception or STI testing even though pregnancy and STIs are potential consequences of not using a condom. In her research Brodsky went online anonymously to look at what proponents of nonconsensual condom removal had to say about it.

The motivation for the practice stems in part from the desire for increased physical pleasure, but what’s more problematic was that it also stems from the thrill of degrading their sex partner and their belief in men’s inherent right to violence and to spread their seed.

All of this is extremely important in the context of mens rea for determining guilt for sexual assault.

Most crimes in Canada have two aspects, actus reus – meaning the act of the crime itself, and mens rea- the ‘guilty mind’ referring to the knowledge, recklessness, or negligence of the perpetrator engaging in the crime.

In Canadian Criminal law, the mens rea required for sexual assault cases is whether the perpetrator knowingly, recklessly, or negligently engaged in the sexual activity without the victim’s consent. One could argue that the dismissive attitude of a man engaging in this practice towards his victim combined with online expressions of his belief in his right to remove the condom for whatever reason and his taking glory in the degradation of his partner by violating their consent would provide the needed mens rea.

If Canadian Criminal law will not recognize nonconsensual condom removal as sexual assault, there is always civil law.

The Quebec Civil Code recognizes the inviolability and integrity of every person. It also recognizes that every person has “a duty to abide by the rules of conduct incumbent on him, according to the circumstances, usage, or law, so as not to cause injury to another” and that should a person endowed with reason cause injury to another – be it bodily, moral, or material – that person is bound to make reparation for it.

Bodily injury in Quebec Civil Law refers to damages to your physical body, material injury refers to damages to your property, and moral refers to psychological damages. While not an ideal remedy for the violation of bodily autonomy and fear of unwanted pregnancies and STIs, a victim of nonconsensual condom removal could sue on one or all three of these grounds.

Any STIs or unwanted pregnancies that ensue could be argued as bodily injury, loss of a job to deal with the fallout, physical or mental, of the violation could be grounds for a demand for material damages, and the psychological impact of the violation could be cause for moral damages.

Birth control rebuttal

In response to recent discussions about nonconsensual condom removal, there have been lots of people claiming that if this practice is illegal, it should also be a crime to lie about being on the birth control pill. People claim laws are unfair to men given that in March 2017, an Ontario court ruled against a man who sued a woman who lied about being on birth control prior to them having sex. She got pregnant and he sued for psychological damages.

While there is no disputing the immorality of lying about being on birth control, there are some fundamental differences between lying about being on the pill and nonconsensual condom removal.

First, there is no online cult of women working to deceive men about being on birth control due to a belief in some inherent right the way there is one of men who feel entitled to spread their seed regardless of the wishes of their partner. It should also be noted that birth control sabotage is not performed primarily by women desperate for a baby, but by abusive male partners looking to make a woman more dependent on him.

Second, lying about the pill does not put the man at risk of STIs the way removing a condom without consent puts the victims at risk.

Brodsky points out the third when she discusses the danger of legally enforcing demands for full reproductive transparency, which is that it puts vulnerable people at risk, such as those who cannot take birth control for health reasons but are stuck with partners who demand sex but will not use condoms.

It should also be noted that the reason why the Ontario courts ruled against the man in the aforementioned case is because it was judged primarily on family law grounds. In Ontario, family law cases are assessed in ways to benefit children and not favor one parent over another.

His case was dismissed primarily for the sake of the child that resulted from the woman’s deception, but also because it became clear that the plaintiff’s issue was not the sex, but the ensuing unwanted parenthood and potential financial obligations connected to it. Given that, a better equivalent for this case would be that of a man who lied about being sterile or having had a vasectomy in order to have consensual sex without a condom which resulted in a pregnancy.

In cases of nonconsensual condom removal, the victims only agreed to a specific sex act, one with a condom. The removal of the condom nullified their consent, and the willful violation of that consent is just that, a violation.

* Featured image: Women’s Health

Remember the time I was almost arrested for sharing free food with my friends?

I do. It was a cold, rainy May Day and we showed up to Lafayette Square (in Buffalo NY) as usual, well maybe we were 10 minutes late, and then as soon as I got out of the car and hugged my one of the people waiting in line, BOOM, out comes an officer of the law to tell me I needed to stop.

STOP? Stop serving my community while you sit there serving a paycheck? STOP? Stop providing necessary organic vegetables to those too poor to afford them, to those living in a food desert, to those who are HUNGRY RIGHT NOW, to those waiting in the rain for a meal (believe me if they didn’t need it they wouldn’t be there).

I could not serve my friends in the park. Our picnic was trampled by someone paid with my tax dollars. My heart was broken.

Buffalo Food Not Bombs serves every Monday and Saturday and has for over 20 years, no matter rain, snow, or sunshine we are out there with our friends, our people, our community. Some things are maybe not worth getting arrested for, this is not one of those things. I will do anything in my power to keep our free vegan picnic going forever.

Volunteering has given my life meaning, I have made some incredible friends, and when I walk down the street people wave to me, people I serve, people I love dearly, people who need nourishment. Food Not Bombs is a worldwide movement against hunger and food waste, we got this. 

They said it was permits we needed- well I went to the permit office like a bat out of hell immediately after and guess what they told me? NO PERMITS ARE NECESSARY IF THE FOOD IS FREE! How about them (free) apples?

We only serve vegetables so the laws about meat temperature do not apply to us. We only give away things for free that were donated so no taxes apply to us. This food is a gift and there is no gain to share unsafe food.

We share the food immediately after it is cooked in a clean and inspected kitchen with gloves and clean containers and cutlery. We have filed paperwork with the Health Department to make sure we are legit on that account, but both of the kitchens we cook in have already been on the books and inspected, so why? Why are we being hassled now?

One thought is that May Day is a day that activists tend to lash out against “the man”. Perhaps we were a threat? Giving out free food to serve the revolution is dangerous. Making sure there are no rumbling tummies is a travesty.

The Police have always had a watchful eye on us, Feed them? Ha, make them starve! Not on my watch, bro. If I have an abundance I will share it by any means necessary.

Another theory is that there is also a new “luxury” hotel right across from Lafayette Square, perhaps they don’t want tourists to see our homeless population? Gentrification will not stand, this is a public park, and our people will continue to enjoy it. I have heard of people getting arrested for serving free food in places like Florida, but there are no standing laws that apply to us here in Buffalo.

That day I gave my phone number to a few regulars, the next day an elderly woman hit me up. She depended on our free produce. Her sister is also vegan, they cannot afford that life without our support. I hooked her up with produce and gave her a ride home.

It turns out that she used to be an art teacher, she dedicated her life to making children see beauty. She told me not to swear (I am a potty mouth fo sho) and also said that she went to the same church as one of the officers. I hope she makes her cry on Sunday.

This woman is so sweet, thank you again Sara, for reminding me why we do this. I made a friend for life because I reached out a hand full of food and she needed it. This sweet woman told me that I was doing God’s work. Well, I am an atheist, but I respect that because I knew religion was very important to her. I will NEVER STOP! Never.

We made asparagus with garlic and olive oil, mixed veggies, green salad, apple crisp, banana cranberry bread, mixed sweet and white potatoes, roasted caramelized cabbage, cantelope, fresh bread and bagels, fruit smoothies, iced sweet tea, and organic produce to share. Thankfully we were able to serve our meal at the University of Buffalo in solidarity with Muslim students at a hate speech by Robert Spencer (anti-jihad alt right nut job) that was sponsored by the on campus white supremacist student group. So it didn’t go to waste. We found an alternate place to serve for that one day, we will be back in our regular place ASAP.

The community support has been phenomenal. Many have reached out and will be volunteering with us. This Saturday’s share will be incredible. I cannot wait to see what comes of this.

Thank you for the free publicity. We will have an uproar from our beautiful neighbors to stand up for those who need a meal. Shame on you for trying to shut us down! If you had a problem with us, tell us and we will fix it, don’t shut us down when people are depending on us to eat that day!

The cops were always “nice” to us in the past. A week before there was a young, black, female officer that was “helping” us. This week she would not look me in the eye as we were forced to shut down. She was a plant, she was used because we would accept her presence a little easier. Officer Gentrification looked a lot like the cop from Terminator 2. I am not intimidated or impressed. Their hungry tummies are on your conscience sir!

You did not serve or protect anyone on this day. I had to tell a homeless person of color “Do not take that bread.” I had to tell an elderly woman whose hand was shaking “Do not take those apples.” I had to tell a woman with small children “I cannot give you that food.”

Food is necessary for survival, it is a right and not a privilege! I should have stood up right then and there, but I didn’t, and I am disappointed in myself. I thought about the people I was with, other volunteers, the good ones, and didn’t want them to get hurt.

My community is my life. I care about the people we serve as if they were my family because all humans are my family! This is a cause worth getting arrested for. If we are told to stop once more, the next meal is a protest and everyone is invited.

Alcohol and I don’t mix. I am second guessing my whole attraction to the party scene, I just don’t want to be a clouded disaster anymore. Also, and more importantly, it’s bad for my body.

Why do I have to be drunk to dance and meet people? I have more meaningful relationships that begin with chance meetings at art openings or while volunteering, nothing good has ever come out of the bar. It’s just a place to spend money and waste away. Pay to rot in the darkness while everyone is trying to get their dick sucked. Bumping around at last call to find someone just as drunk as them to bump uglies with.

Going out all the time is a game. You see the same people, spending their money, playing pool, throwing back beers and shots, looking more attractive to each other by the second.

When you are the only sober person in the group it is interesting. You can see the dark side of the depressant that is alcohol. People spiral out of control and act a fool. Barely able to walk or create sentences, bumbling, spilling, spending money, desperation, mindlessly grabbing for any shred of connection they can get. Nobody realizes how silly the whole thing is if everyone is drunk.

I have noticed a disturbing trend among my friends: everyone is fucking depressed. People are drinking to forget instead of to enjoy. To medicate instead of celebrate.

Like every other person with fading youth I have dabbled in alcoholism, been the girl who made all of the bad decisions. I have taken cabs home with strange men and women. I have woken up next to a person that I never remembered even meeting, let alone fucking.

Taking advantage of a drunk person is RAPE! What kind of feminist has such little self respect that the only way she can get some is by getting black out? You must respect yourself. The difference of good people who do bad things sometimes and bad people who do good things sometimes isn’t clear when you are inebriated.

For me being sober has a better chance of leading to ghosting – the art of sneaking out without saying goodbye. I know this can be bad, people may wonder “WTF happened to Cat?” A lot of times my friends get pissed, but most times people don’t even notice I am gone. Everyone is drunk and wrapped up in their own worlds, trying to get fucked or make a meaningful connection, pounding beers.

If I feel un-engaged I will bounce. I keep imagining how much nicer my bed full of kitties and books is than this dingy ass bar.

I have been inspired by a couple of my friends who have been reading books in the corner of the bar. This is a great upgrade from texting away. My bestie said that more people came and sat next to her when she was reading over texting or just drinking and staring off into the abyss. Being in your own head is more approachable. Being smart is attractive.

I find that my greatest sadness and isolation happens when I am in a full room of people, most of which I know and love, and I drink. Once I drink a wave of darkness comes over me. I am lonely in a way that is incomprehensible.

I often feel socially awkward when in a bar situation. I can’t hear enough to conversate. I really get pissed off by drunk men above all, the worst are the flaming bro douches. The ones with oozing testosterone and backwards hats, the ones who flex their muscles while drinking their Labatt Blue. I have no time for your bullshit. Reading a book in the well lit corner is better than getting your ass grabbed by scumbags any day.

I am not going to preach about any kind of lifestyle choices because I cannot rule you, I am only in charge of my own actions. I can understand why people go straightedge. Being focused and strong, making sure they are ready to fight for the revolution. Giving up drugs because your friends are dying, your little brothers and sisters are overdosing. Live because they died. Cops killing in the name of the racist war on drugs, quick money, and it all goes by in the blink of an eye.

Never judge anyone for not drinking or partaking in drugs. Respect every person’s right to choose. They will be the people you look too when you are messed up and need help at 4am.

How can I expect to have a real connection with someone that I consistently meet at 4am at a bar? He is always fucked up. Singing and dancing like a sprite, perfect to the sight, no idea how bright. So beautiful, but not cogniscant of what I am capable of. I will keep you warm and fed, I will hold you when you are sad, I will travel to the end of the world with you, holding hands against adversity. I want to be someone’s everything kind of love.

Yet I grasp for straws.

I hate that moment when someone decides they are not interested. Hot guy comes up and initiates conversation, it’s going well, we are both laughing, then all of a sudden “I need to get a drink.” He goes to the bar, gets his drink, and walks away like we were never talking.

LAME. I don’t want to monopolize someones time, but it’s kind of rude to walk away with no viable explanation. I’ts not like he owed me anything, but come on. He then started talking to a smaller, cuter girl. Typical.

People fight with their significant others only when they are both drinking. Some people only get the balls to communicate when they drink. Important things that should be discussed with a clear mind are haphazardly thrown on the table.

There is something so wrong about fuzzy conversation, basing your decisions on the clouded mind of a drunk. Like Kimya Dawson says: “Without 40 ounces of social skills I’m just an ass in the crack of humanity.” I am socially inept, downright scared to talk to people when I am out of my comfort zone. But to be fair, sometimes I isolate myself by going out in full makeup and costume after one of my shows. I would be afraid to talk to me, too.

As a bartender I was definitely a therapist. I did not like drinking while I worked for that reason. I know a lot of bartenders who think otherwise. It really got to me after awhile, seeing the effect it had on people made it not appealing. There is nothing sexy about drunk people.

Being a bartender is HARD! stressful work. People are basically on vacation and some treat you like a common slave. I can’t be fake nice for a tip anymore. I have a tip for you, don’t be a misogynist asshole and go fuck yourself. How’s that for a tip?

Do you really know someone if you only see them when they are all fucked up? IS that them? If someone is drunk more often than not does that define them? Are they just “a drunk” now? That’s sad.

I don’t want to think that. Sobriety provides clarity and focus, not hiding behind the false good feels. I don’t want to be an asshole anymore. People get mean when they drink and make excuses. “Oh I only smoke when I drink.” “Oh I only do coke when I drink.” “Oh I only beat my wife when I drink.” “Oh I only smash up my car and kill entire families when I drink.”

Moderation is everything, I know that, but sometimes you just gotta dry out and start over. I have never had a bad reaction with marijuana. Cocaine is not a social drug. People end up in the bathroom, then tweak out, nobody wants to share it because it’s so expensive. Weed is about community, a peace pipe, I am always happy to pass the joint. Alcohol is also a party substance that people are happy to share. Arriving with a case of beer can save the party.

Most are trying to fill a void with liquor and drugs. Alcohol is social fuel for the terminally awkward. Our generation is confused. Real honest connections are blurred.

It is lovely to be the one who can keep their shit together among an incapacitated crowd. The responsible one, the human that you look for when shit gets too weird. The party hero. Carrying around a solo cup full of water.

Clarity now, the fog has lifted and I can see your true colors. Now is the time to take chances, be weird without alcohol. An aggressive drunk girl can seem pathetic, but an aggressive sober girl is different.

People can be uncomfortable around sober folks, so don’t brag about being sober, drink your water and act a fool. The only one stopping you from having an amazing time is yourself.

Cheers,

Cat

According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, young people should get used to temporary employment. That means that Generations X, Y, and Millennials should get used to badly paid uncertain employment with lousy or no benefits to speak of.

This article is not about how our Prime Minister rode the younger vote into office on a promise to fix unsteady employment. It’s not about the fact that Trudeau turned his back on young Canadians the same way protesters turn their backs on him.

This is about getting fired.

Dismissals are increasingly common as work gets more unstable. Fortunately, there are laws that protect people from the worst behaviors of employers.

In Quebec we have two main laws to protect employees: the Civil Code and the Act Respecting Labour Standards.

The Civil Code’s provision on dismissal says that if your period of employment is for an unfixed term, you are legally entitled to a notice of termination.

The notice of termination is a written document announcing that you’ve been dismissed from the job. If you’ve been working constantly at the job for three months or more, you are legally entitled to that notice.

The time between that notice and the day you are actually supposed to stop working depends on how long you’ve been there. If you’ve been working continuously at a job for between three months to a year, you’re legally entitled to one week’s notice. If you’ve been working one to five years, you’re supposed to get two weeks notice. For five to ten years of service, you’re entitled to four weeks notice, and for over ten years of service, you’re legally entitled to eight weeks of notice.

Most employers do not want you at the job after they’ve decided to fire you, and they are allowed to ask you to leave, but there is a catch. If they don’t want you working during the mandatory time between serving you the notice and the time you are legally entitled to, they have to pay you an indemnity equivalent to the wages you would have gotten for that period. That means that if you’re entitled to two weeks notice and they ask to leave right away, they owe you two weeks’ pay. It should be noted however that if your employer fails to give you that notice or indemnity, you are legally entitled to ask for it and should.

When it comes to the act of actually firing someone, there are only a few legitimate reasons an employer can use. They can fire you for misconduct, for having a bad attitude, for your lack of skills, insufficient performance, or your incompetence, all of which are considered “good and sufficient cause for dismissal”.

What employers cannot do is fire you as punishment for something they’ve already reprimanded you for. It’s the double jeopardy rule of employment law that means that if, for example, you screwed up at work and your boss suspended you for a week for your actions, they’re not allowed to fire you for the exact same mistake.

Employers are also not allowed to engage in “constructive dismissal”, known in French as “congediement deguisee” or disguised dismissal. This is the practice where instead of firing you outright, in which case they’d have to give you the proper notice, indemnity, and paperwork, your employer makes a unilateral and fundamental change to your employment without reasonable notice, thus making your working conditions so unpleasant that you quit on your own.

This includes, for example, cutting your hours by crazy amounts when you’ve worked a certain number of hours at this job for years, or unilaterally cutting your pay without explanation. If the changes to your working conditions are so dramatic you’ll have to quit your job to find conditions equivalent to the ones you had before, you can argue that you’ve been the victim of constructive dismissal. Constructive dismissal can also take the form of psychological harassment making your job so unbearable that you quit.

The almighty layoff is another way you can lose your job, but it does not carry the same stigma as dismissal. Permanent layoffs are related to the internal or economic life of the employer and supposedly have nothing to do with the employee(s) they let go – the sort of “it’s not you, it’s ME” version of dismissal. Reasons for layoff can include a decline in the company’s business, reorganization of the business, the implementation of new technology, or the sale of the business.

Regardless of whether you were terminated or laid off, the rules regarding notices of dismissal still apply. If you suspect your employer has mishandled letting you go, feel free to call the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail at 1 844 838-0808 to see if you have any legal recourse.

If you decide to go after your employer for how they treated you, you have a few options. If you had two or more years of uninterrupted employment before being dismissed and feel that you were let go without a good and sufficient cause, you can file a complaint with the Commission des normes within forty-five days of your termination. The complaint must be in written form and failure to do so within that time makes you lose your right to pursue it.

The Commission des normes de travail can then act on your behalf to come up with some kind of agreement between you and your employer to ensure the law is obeyed. You also have the option of suing your employer in civil court. If you cannot afford a lawyer, remember that legal aid may be an option for you.

In this era of unstable employment, employees need to protect themselves more than ever. The next time you get let go, contact Normes de travail. You may have more rights than you think.